I’m a Certified Coach trained by Dr. Martha Beck and the Coaches Training Institute and right now, I’m wading through an MA/PhD in Coaching & Mentoring at Oxford Brookes (yep, I likes to be learnin’).
I became a coach after almost twenty years of helping thousands of people navigate change in their place of work, and facing the crucibles in my own life: grief, loss and longing.
My own transformation path has led me right to you.
First, some backstory…
When I was five, I was in the Red Group at my tiny school in the South Island of New Zealand, because I was best at reading. I had to sit at the front of the class because I was also best at talking. And questioning. Everything. All the time.
I have a boundless curiosity for words and people, stories and ideas.
At university I studied psychology, philosophy, poetry, feminism, theology and politics; consequently I’m a fabulous dinner party guest. I also learnt not to ever let anyone cut your hair in exchange for a Def Leppard CD.
But no amount of book learning could prepare me for the sudden death of my beloved mother, one random Tuesday in 2002. A year later came the equally unceremonious end of my marriage.
Grief-struck and sad, I raged against the universe for all the ways I had been wronged. During the day, I was leading big complex projects; at night I resorted to my lifelong default of food and wine to numb out my too-hard-to-feel feelings. I spent a lot of time in my little London flat, thinking.
Then I had a LOT of therapy.
I decided I did not want this to be my story.
Instead, I decided to say yes. Often.
And I found myself playing cards until 3am with several German backpackers in an underground Estonian bar, exploring the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and running with bulls in Pamplona. I was woken by the call to prayer in a Marrakech riad, kayaked the Cares Gorge and climbed the Picos Mountains in Northern Spain. I watched the sun set in Santorini, attended the dawn service at ANZAC cove, and survived a snowstorm in the Swiss Alps with cider, strudel and uno. I crossed the Charles Bridge in Prague and backpacked around Italy for weeks; I compared the breakfast pastries of New York, Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris and had my luggage lost every single time I flew Iberia airlines.
My pendulum swung from ‘Woman Curled Up in a Ball’, to ‘Most Likely to Skinny Dip’ for half a dozen years of exhausting, brilliant fun.
But I knew I was a disembodied head chasing the next high.
Work, pinot noir, shopping, food, too many adventures with infelicitous lovers — it was all an Olympic-level exercise in staying busy, to avoid being alone and facing the truth: that I felt broken, disconnected and angry, often with a little guilt and shame sprinkled on top. Neat.
It wasn’t until I stopped trying to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty that I really started to heal.
Utterly knackered, I went home to New Zealand to rest. Staying still allowed me to breathe out. I began to feel all the scary feelings. It was like wearing a scratchy, woolly jumper 24/7. It felt epically crappy. But I knew it was real.
I opened myself up to the whole spectrum of emotion, and everything transformed.
Over time I was able to love all of my story; heart-shaking losses, and cringe-worthy mistakes included.
I know this will be a lifelong practice.
I began writing on the interwebs in 2007, and found myself connecting to the most amazing peeps. A magic alchemy of healing, teaching and learning came from sharing and it’s no small truth to say that blogging changed my life.
And here I am: sober, amplified and thriving, without all of my shit together, mostly in the flow of an awakened life.
I have a conscious, loving relationship with my body, cherished friends who expand me in all the best ways. I’ve found the place I feel most at home is an ancient English woodland, 12,000 miles away from the tiny New Zealand fishing village where I was born. And after over two decades of being in the wrong job, I’ve gone from being a miserable six-figure earning Corporateer (like a Mouseketeer but waaaay crapper) to finding my soul’s purpose.
I share my life with Ash: Mr P – my best friend and co-conspirator – I don’t ever want our conversation to be over.
And I’d love to know more about you.